There is a parable told about a child who is afraid of the dark. The parent reassures the little boy, saying that he is not alone, that God is always with him and therefore he need not be afraid. The little boy responds, "But I want God with skin on him."
It's not such an unreasonable request as one might think, this idea of wanting "God with skin." The Scriptures this Sunday describe that reality.
The Second Reading is a passage from 1 Corinthians 12 that articulates the nature of our union in one body and the roles each of us are given. "Just as the body is one and has many members . . . so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. . . . Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."
'You are the body of Christ.'
1 Corinthians 12.27
Each of us has our unique place in the body, our own role, our own abilities and giftedness; yet our aptitude and particular role is to be directed towards a common purpose, working in a unified way with all the other parts, with the other members of the body.
That common purpose is clearly described in the Gospel from Luke. Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry, enters the synagogue and is given the scroll from the prophet Isaiah.
"He found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'"
Then he told his listeners that he was the fulfillment of that passage; this was his "mission statement." We – all of us who have received the Good News of his coming - are joined together in this life in the spiritual form of Christ's body, and we participate in the same mission and charism that Jesus had as his own during his human earthly life.
We, the Body of Christ, are equipped and appointed to continue the work of liberation, hope and justice. We each have our own lives, and are in different stages of life, but together we are entrusted with the task of being God's flesh in this time and place.
I looked around me at church last Sunday. I saw the men being commissioned to do their monthly visit to the prison; I saw the ones whose turn it was to take communion to the sick; I saw the parents, looking after their children. That is God's love in action.
Whether we are retired, in school, at home or at work; whether our work is the mine, the hospital, the service station or the parish, we all are entrusted with bringing God's love to others. We are empowered to be "God with skin on," to bring comfort to little ones, hope to the imprisoned, freedom to the oppressed.
(Kathleen Giffin firstname.lastname@example.org)